Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is a true wonder of the world and is an amazing place to visit. You really can't imagine its beauty until you actually see it for yourself. There are plenty of places from where you can explore the Great Barrier Reef, and whether you travel to the outer reef or visit some of the other reefs and Islands nearer the coast you are sure to be satisfied.


Although the reef is called the Great Barrier Reef, it is actually made up of around 2600 different reefs. The Great Barrier Reef is 2000km long, starting just south of the Tropic of Capricorn. The Great Barrier Reef stretches along the Queensland coastline from just north of Bundaberg (where you will find the Southern Reef Islands) right upto Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait. Due to the reefs amazing and spectacular natural beauty the Great Barrier Reef was declared as a World Heritage Area in 1981.


The reef is called the 'Barrier' Reef because it is an outer reef, situated along the Australian continental shelf with the channel between the coastline and the reef reaching a depth of about 60m. The other type of reef is a 'Fringe' reef, which is situated along the coastline of land and islands.



The islands of Queensland, and the Great Barrier Reef region of Tropical North Queensland in particular, are Australia's crown jewels, with a choice of accommodation and activities ranging from remote and secluded luxury lodges and elegantly sophisticated resorts, through to family oriented island getaways.


Queensland's Great Barrier Reef islands are ideally suited for honeymooners, families, divers, beachcombers - in fact anyone looking for an idyllic, exotic, sunkissed and pristine holiday destination that is a rare escape from a stressful world.

Honeymooners or couples just wanting an exquisite escape are particularly recommended the beautiful romantic Great Barrier Reef Islands of Lizard, Hayman, Hamilton, the remote Robinson Crusoe experience of Wilson Island, the secluded and exclusive Orpheus Island.


If diving or fishing are more your speed then Heron, Wilson, Lizard are superb choices. For nature at its best with bird watching, turtle hatching and whale watching most of the islands are an ecological wonderland.


The options are wide and varied on Queensland's Great Barrier Reef.

Wherever you decide to go in the Great Barrier Reef, make sure you go somewhere. Once you get there the best way to see the reef is by snorkeling or diving. Even for those who don't feel brave enough, try. It is definitely worth it.

You can swim, snorkel, dive and sail the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, a living masterpiece so big it can be seen from outer space.


It stretches more than 2,000 kilometres along the Queensland coast, from the mainland towns of Port Douglas to Bundaberg. Hop between the pristine, palm-fringed islands on top, then explore the rainbow-coloured coral islands and marine life below.


Five ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef:


1. From the top, island hop

 Party in Airlie Beach, hit the water sports on Hamilton, honeymoon on luxurious Hayman or just chill out on the soft, white sand of Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island. For accommodation, you’ll find everything from five-star resorts to the back-to-nature simplicity of tents in natural settings. You can go castaway on many of Great Barrier Reef’s lush island national parks.  There’s Green and Fitzroy islands near Cairns, and Dunk, Bedarra, Hinchinbrook and Orpheus islands further south. Head to Hayman, Heron and Lizard Islands for superior resorts and diving.



2. With flippers and a wetsuit

Check out the technicolour coral and marine life through a glass-bottomed boat from coastal hubs such as Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Mackay, Mission Beach and Airlie Beach. Or experience the reef’s smooth seas, deep drop offs, underwater tunnels and caves with a dive school or day trip operator. Snorkel or dive the edge of the continental shelf at Agincourt Reef from Cairns, explore the SS Yongala shipwreck from Townsville and Magnetic Island and the Llewellyn shipwreck from Mackay. See sea stars, crabs corals, molluscs at Fitzroy, Capricorn and Bunker Reefs near Gladstone. Or kick through vivid coral canyons and past marine turtles near Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrave Islands. In the Whitsundays, the warm clear water and psychedelic coral reefs are just a day trip from your Airlie Beach or island resort.



With wind in your sails

Set sail from Port Douglas for Low Isles, a secluded island jewel discovered by Captain Cook in 1770. Or charter a boat from Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach and coast through the turquoise water of the Whitsundays. Anchor overnight at picturesque moorings such as Whitehaven Beach, Cid Harbour and Butterfly Bay and visit the reefs of Black, Langford and Bird Island along the way. Stop for resort relaxation on Daydream, Hamilton or Long Islands. You can also take a bareboat from Cairns or Airlie Beach to the outer Greater Barrier Reef. Learn to sail with fully qualified staff or take on a skipper until you feel confident enough to take the wheel. You can also charter vessels from Maxi Racers to catamarans, complete with a trained crew. Or meet new people on a fully crewed overnight charter.



Smelling rainforest air

Trek, camp and commune with nature in the region’s national parks, which stretch from Cape York to the lush Whitsunday islands. Cruise down the Daintree River and visit Mossman Gorge in the Daintree Rainforest. Spot nocturnal wildlife and swoon at Bloomfield Falls when you reach Cape Tribulation, where the forest plunges literally to the reef. Bushwalk through gorges and subtropical and tropical rainforests in Eungella National Park, set in the mist-shrouded mountains west of Mackay. Picnic under swamp mahoganies and red gums and take in scenic lookout and rich bird and wildlife. In the Whitsunday National Park, you can walk from Tongue Bay on Whitsunday Island for great views. Or see precious rock art by the Ngaro people at Nara Inlet, Hook Island. Camp, wake to birdsong, swim on deserted beaches and smell fragrant rainforest air on Hook, Long, Cid, North and South Molle Islands to name a few.



With your adrenalin pumping

Soar over the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef on a scenic helicopter flight to Green Island. Spectacular Heart Reef is located on Hardy Reef in the Whitsundays and is best experienced from a seaplane or helicopter. Combine a snorkelling day trip to the reef from Cairns with a hot air balloon ride over the Atherton Tablelands. Take a luxury catamaran from Cairns and Port Douglas to the outer Great Barrier Reef. Or drift between Cairns and Townsville on a luxury three-day cruise. Stay on Airlie Beach or at a resort on Hamilton or Daydream Island and try your hand at parasailing, boating, bushwalking, sea-kayaking, fishing, snorkelling and more.